blind spot: hitler's secretary (2002)


director: andre heller & othmar schmiderer

Attempting to work around the guilty consciences of his supporters, Adolf Hitler apparently told them not to worry - that he would take responsibility for everything done in the name of Germany under the Third Reich.

As recalled by his secretary, Traudl Junge, almost sixty years later, it’s obvious that he did no such thing. Blind Spot is a record of the last time that Junge sat down to talk about her years spent at the very heart of Hitler’s awful regime, one of the few times that Junge, who died the night the film premiered in Berlin, consented to talk publicly about her experience.

It’s an austere, artless film, uninterested in entertaining an audience - there are no probing pans over old photos, or bits of archival footage. Junge sits in her Munich apartment, in front of the camera, and tells her story, smoking the odd cigarette to maintain her composure. Occasionally, she’s seen what looks like a few years later, watching herself, elaborating on points she felt were insufficiently explained. There’s little here for anyone who isn’t serious about trying to grasp the pitiless details of this gruesome, disheartening period of history.

Much of the film has Junge - an articulate, obviously haunted woman - describing her whirlwind memories of the last days in the bunker, where Hitler’s apocalyptic rhetoric had convinced everyone that, after his death, Germany would not survive. After his suicide, Junge is suddenly forced to see that he hadn’t taken responsibility for his criminal regime, and his cowardice enrages her. But in the silence of the postwar years, having emerged from Russian and American imprisonment officially “denazified”, her guilt submerges itself.

Blind Spot is Junge’s final testament of that guilt, occasionally wrenching but perhaps not entirely convincing in spots. Pleading youth, naïveté and ignorance, as well as a lingering “father complex”, is ultimately an attempt to shrug off some of that burden, but it resonates deeply, especially as it’s lately become obvious that war and guilt and dictators have not gone away, and that Europe, even sixty years later, is still deep in the shadow of Junge’s guilty conscience.